In a furious, well-stated argument about the blue code of silence, Hot 97's Peter Rosenberg went completely off on an officer who called into today’s Ebro In The Morning radio show to talk about the death of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man shot and killed by police in Louisiana.
Cell phone footage released on Tuesday shows two cops from the Baton Rouge Police Department wrestling Sterling to the ground outside a convenience store. A police statement claims the officers had “responded to a disturbance call from a complainant who stated that a black male who was selling music cd’s and wearing a red shirt threatened him with a gun.”
The statement also frames the incident as “an altercation between Sterling and the officers,” though the video appears to show the officers as the main aggressors. The store owner who allegedly witnessed the shooting says he saw one officer shoot Sterling “four to six times.”
The shooting became a topic on Ebro In The Morning, during which a cop called in to chime in on the conversation. “As an officer yourself, it looks bad, no?” Rosenberg asks the caller. “Can you say the words, ‘It looks bad.’” When the officer stammers in response, Rosenberg snaps. “I have to say this. This is the problem I have with police officers—and no disrespect to you. Y’all don’t ever wanna point to someone else and say you can’t do your job well!” he says. “And that’s the reason the public thinks all of you are bad, because you won’t ever call someone out and say they murdered someone in cold blood. It happened again.”
Rosenberg hasn’t always been the most sympathetic mouthpiece (he once had a silly beef with Nicki Minaj about rap and authenticity). But his rage over this one cop—who represents all cops who blindly and pathetically choose corrupt authority and silence over justice—is a prime example of the way aggravation about police brutality bubbles up. More than the argument itself, it’s the familiarity of his rhetoric, the things we’ve heard too many times before, that makes it so intense.
“Until you guys start taking responsibility for your own, people in the street are gonna be upset instead. So how ’bout y’all lead the movement instead,” Rosenberg tells the officer. “How ’bout instead of people rioting, police officers get out in front of it themselves and you guys are the first ones on the front lines. That’s what should happen instead of you struggling to say, well I don’t know, it could be. They murdered that man. We just saw it.”